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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020
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Fires cause €5 million worth of damage with 985 hectares of land destroyed

Coillte estimates that it will take this much to cover the extra expense from fire fighting, replacement of trees lost and forgone revenue from timber.

Loughguile in Co Antrim where the heathland was ablaze
Loughguile in Co Antrim where the heathland was ablaze
Image: Paul faith/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE FIRES THAT hit various parts of the country in recent days has destroyed an estimated 985 hectares or 2,400 acres of forests that are part of the Coillte estate.

The counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo, Longford, Cavan, Roscommon, Offaly, Louth, Westmeath, Clare, Galway and Mayo were all affected by forest and gorse fires that caused extensive damage to property, wildlife and habitats.

While in Donegal alone, some 300 Irish Defence Forces troops had to be deployed to deal with a huge gorse fires there, dropping some 300,000 litres of water over the affected area.

John O’Sullivan, Regional Director Coillte Forest said this afternoon:

These forest fires are mainly as a result of careless and dangerous burning of vegetation in close proximity to forests.

The gardaí are treating these incidents very seriously and will be looking to pursue the people who started these fires.

We call on anyone who has any information on recent fires to contact us or their local garda station.

Coillte has today published a full breakdown of the damage caused saying the amount of forests destroyed in recent days is four times the national annual average over the last 10 years and 200 hectares more than was damaged in 2010, the worst year on record prior to this.

The €5 million figures is derived from the costs of firefighting, replacement of the trees lost and timber revenues forgone.

It has provided a full break down of how much land was destroyed in each county:

  • Donegal – 550 hectares
  • Galway/Mayo – 250 hectares
  • Sligo – 40 hectares
  • Roscommon – 20
  • Cavan – 25
  • Monaghan – 80
  • Cork/Waterford – 20

Meanwhile in the North, the body responsible for water, Northern Ireland Water, says that it will cost a quarter-of-a-million pounds to treat water that has been affected by gorse fires in the area around the Mourne Mountains  in Co Down.

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Water from the Mournes runs into Ben Crom and Silent Valley reservoirs and is transported from there to water treatment plant where it is treated to drinking water quality standards.

The water quality is likely to be affected by the damage to the surrounding area meaning it will cost Northern Ireland Water around £250,000 extra to treat the water but it has stressed that this will have no impact on the quality of drinking water coming out of people’s taps.

The minister for forestry Shane McEntee said yesterday that the cost of the damage will run into the many millions of euro.

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Hugh O'Connell

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